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White Paper

on the Design of Software Application Programs

to Increase Their Accessibility

for People with Disabilities

Prepared by
Gregg C. Vanderheiden Ph.D.
Trace R&D Center
University of Wisconsin-Madison
in conjunction with Information Technology Foundation
(formerly ADAPSO Foundation)

as a resource document to software developers interested
in increasing the accessibility of their application

March 9, 1992

This White Paper is designed to stimulate
discussion on the design of more accessible
application software, leading to the
development of specific design guidelines for
industry. Comments, corrections,input, ideas,
and issues are solicited. Address comments
to: Gregg C. Vanderheiden Ph.D.,
Trace R & D Center, Dept of Industrial
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

Copyright 1991 Board of Regents
University of Wisconsin System

NOTE: To facilitate this document's review and use,
you are free to duplicate and disseminate it freely.
You may also excerpt ideas and materials from it
freely. Acknowledgement is appreciated but not

However, some of the charts and concepts in this
document are taken from other authors and
publications. These are so marked, and separate
permission must be sought directly from those authors
or publications before use (apart from copying this
whole document).

Support for this work has been provided by
the Information Technology Foundation (formerly ADAPSO )
and by
the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation
Research (NIDRR)
of the US Department of Education under Grant #G00850036.

The opinions expressed in this document are those of
the author and do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of the Information Technology Foundation, or
the National Institute for Disability and
Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

Table of Contents

.Begin Table C.

What Is Meant by Accessibility?.........................1
The Purpose of This White Paper.........................1

Part I: Why Make Application Software Accessible?.........3

Part II: What Problems Do People
with Disabilities Have? and Why?.......................7
Disability is a Many-Splendored Thing...................7
Visual Impairments......................................8
Functional Limitations
Caused by Visual Impairments.......................8
Difficulties Using Computers and Software............8
Access to Documentation..............................8
Hearing Impairments.....................................9
Functional Limitations
Caused by Hearing Impairments......................9
Access to Support Services...........................9
Physical Impairments...................................10
Functional Limitations
Caused by Physical Impairments....................10
Cognitive/Language Impairments.........................11
Functional Limitations
Caused by Cognitive Impairments...................11
Seizure Disorders......................................12
Multiple Impairments...................................12

Part III: What is the Role of Standard Application
Software Manufacturers in Computer
Computer Accessibility: A Cooperative
The Role of the Hardware and Operating System
Role of Third-Party Access Manufacturers............14
Role of Application Software Manufacturers..........15
Role of Systems Integrators.........................16
Selection of the Hardware / Operating
System Platform................................16
Selection of Standard Application Software


Accessibility of Training Programs and
Ability of Integrators to Set Up
and Provide Maintenance for Their

Part IV: What Are Others Doing that
Application Software Manufacturers
Can Take Advantage Of?.................................19
Access Strategies for Individuals with Visual
(Available via Platform or Third Party
Low Vision..........................................20
Blind Access (also used by individuals with
low vision).......................................20
Advanced Graphic Access Techniques (for
Input and Control Systems for People with Low
Access Strategies for Individuals with Hearing
(Available via Platform or Third Party
Access Strategies for Individuals with Physical
(Available via Platform or Third Party
Modification to Standard Keyboard Devices...........24

Part V: What Should Application Software
Manufacturers Do?......................................27
1) Cooperation with Access Utilities and
Access Features in the Operating System...........27
Using System Tools and
Provide Software Access to Commands...............27
2) Designing Software to Minimize the
Skills and Abilities Needed to Operate It.........28
3) Providing Accessible Documentation and
Electronic Documentation..........................28
Print Documentation...............................29
4) Product Testing with Access Software and
5) Provision of Special Customer Support
Lines or Specialists..............................30
6) Provision of Special Developer Support
Lines or Contact People for Third-Party
Manufacturers of Access Software and


Appendix A
Initial Listing of Specific Techniques
for Increasing the Accessibility of Application

Appendix B
Resources Available to Help............................43

Appendix C
A Collection of General Notes on Accessibility
(with specific comments in relation to Computers
and Application Software) .............................47

Appendix D
Section 508 Procurement Guidelines.....................59
.End Table C.



A variety of federal and state legislative actions, not the least
of which is the Americans with Disabilities Act, have combined
with public sentiment resulting in increasing emphasis on
accessibility. In concert with this movement, the software
industry has been asked to make its products more accessible to
people with disabilities. This has raised questions among the
members of this industry as to what exactly the problems are, and
what specific types of steps they can take to help make their
products more accessible. This paper is a first step in an
effort sponsored by the software industry to create materials for
themselves which will help to address these questions. Since the
industry contains both advocates and skeptics, and individuals
who are knowledgeable in this area as well as those to whom this
is entirely new, this document serves several purposes. First,
it is a mechanism for those who have knowledge to collect and
present that information which is known. Second, it is a
mechanism to document the rationale and importance of software
accessibility. Third and most important, it is a means to
disseminate information to and among designers and policy makers
within industry to help them better understand the problem and
what they can do to help ensure that their products are more

.c.:What Is Meant by Accessibility?

Accessibility refers to the ability of people to use products and
environments. In this particular context, accessibility is used
to refer to the ability of people with disabilities to access and
use standard application software. Although the way that they
access the software may vary, the program is accessible to an
individual if the individual is able to use it to carry out all
of the same functions and to achieve the same results as
individuals with similar skills and training who do not have a
disability. (For a further discussion of accessibility, see
Appendix C.)

.c.:The Purpose of This White Paper

This particular document is targeted toward the application
software developers. However, it is not possible to make
applications more accessible unless the basic hardware platforms
on which they are running also include accessibility features.
Thus, understanding "application software accessibility issues"
requires an understanding of the roles that computer
manufacturers, operating system manufacturers, and third-party
accessibility developers all play in making computer systems more
accessible. A key point of this document, therefore, is to


examine the overall accessibility issue, and separate thoseaspects which must be addressed by others (hardware manufacturers
or third-party assistive device manufacturers) from those issues
which must be addressed by the application software
manufacturers, so that application software manufacturers can
more clearly understand their role in this area.

To achieve these objectives, this overall paper is organized into
five sections, centered around the following questions:

I. Why make application software more accessible?

II. What problems do people with disabilities have? and why?

III. What is the role of manufacturers of standard
application software? and how does it relate to the role
of computer manufacturers? to the role of operating system
manufacturers? to the role of third-party assistive device

IV. What are these others (computers, operating system and
special devices manufacturers) doing that application
software manufacturers can take advantage of?

V. What is it that application software manufacturers should
do (overview)?

These are followed by four appendices:

Appendix A: Specific guidelines for the design of standard
application software that would increase its accessibility

Appendix B: Resources are available to help

Appendix C: A Collection of General Notes on Accessibility

Appendix D: Section 508 Procurement Guidelines

This paper represents a first effort to begin the process of
compiling a document to provide thorough answers to these and
related questions. Input to this industry/researcher/consumer
cooperative effort is sought from all interested parties. Anyone
can participate in the process by marking up and returning a copy
of this paper or submitting additional comments, problems, or

This cooperative effort is sponsored by the Information
Technology Foundation, a non-profit foundation of the Information
Technology Association of America (formerly ADAPSO), a trade
association which includes software manufacturers, and by the
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
(NIDRR) of the U.S. Office of Education. The effort is
headquartered at the Trace Research and Development Center of the


Waisman Center and Industrial Engineering Department at theUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison.


.c."Part I: Why Make Application Software More Accessible?

There are many reasons for a company to consider making their
applications more accessible. They include:

1) One in ten citizens has a disability of some type. It is
estimated that 7-9 out of every 10 major corporations
employ individuals with disabilities who may need to
access software as a part of their job.

There are between thirty and forty million people in the
United States who have disabilities which affect their
ability to use computers and application software. At the
same time, computers are becoming integral parts of our
living, educational and working environments. As a
result, there is a growing concern that if computers,
operating systems and application software are not
accessible to this fairly large portion of our population,
they will be unable to participate effectively in these

2) Due to our rapidly aging population, the number of
individuals with disabilities or who have functional
limitations is continually growing. Every year, this
population includes more and more computer users.

The population is steadily growing older. As we age, most
of us lose some of our physical, sensory, or mental
abilities. By age 55, 25% of us will be experiencing
functional limitations (see Figure 1). By age 65, this
percentage will rise to 50%. For the growing number of us
who will live to be 70 years old or older, most of us
(75%) will be experiencing functional impairments. In
fifty years, it is estimated that more than a third of the
population will be over age 55.


3) Standard software which is designed to be easy to use by
individuals with performance limitations is usually also
easier to use by everyone else.

Curbcuts were put into sidewalk street corners for people
in wheelchairs, but for every one person in a wheelchair
who use these curbcuts, there are ten individuals with
bicycles, carts, baby strollers, etc. who use the curbcut.
Similarly, the adaptations to software for people with
disabilities that make the software easier to see on the


screen, operate from the keyboard, understand, etc., also make the software easier to use quickly, efficiently, and
without errors for individuals who do not have
disabilities. One example is MouseKeys, a feature that
was added to operating systems to allow people who cannot
use a mouse to move the mouse cursor from the keyboard.
This feature is also commonly used by people doing
graphics layout to make fine adjustments in graphic
positioning, because it allows precise, pixel-by-pixel
movement from the keyboard which is not possible using the
standard mouse.

4) Software compatible with accessibility software is usually
also more compatible with software extensions and to
cross-program scripting utilities.

Some of the principle strategies for making application
software more compatible with disability access software

- doing things in the standard fashion (i.e., following
user interface guidelines),

- using system tools,

- supporting inter-application communications and other
means for one piece of software to issue commands to
and extract information from another application

These also make the program more compatible with other
nondisability-related system extensions and inter-
application macro and scripting utilities.

5) The Federal government is interested in software
applications which are more accessible and "accessibility
aid friendly." Some of this interest is even backed by

Among the legislative efforts is Section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act. This mandates the General Services
Administration of the U.S. Government to work with the
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research to develop guidelines for the purchase of com-
puters and other electronic office equipment in order to
ensure that the equipment purchased by the Government is
accessible to its employees with disabilities. The text
of Section 508 is provided in Figure 2. At the present
time, the GSA Guidelines describe features that would be
desirable in computers and operating systems. Discussions
are underway, however, regarding an extension of the GSA
Guidelines to also include application software, to make
sure that applications cooperate with access features
being built into the operating systems as well as lending
themselves to access and use by people with disabilities.
This White Paper reflects these discussions, and provides


industry with a mechanism for participating in the exploration and discussion of these topics as well.
Review, comment, and feedback on this White Paper and
subsequent cooperative Industry Design Guidelines can help
provide guidance to the government in the development of
their purchasing requirements and regulations. A copy of
the Section 508 guidelines is included in Appendix D.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was recently
passed by Congress and signed by President Bush, requires
that companies also make their work environments more
accessible to individuals with disabilities. As a result,
not only the Federal government but the public sector and
private companies will be increasingly interested in
software application programs which are more accessible
and work well with existing and future special access
features and accessories.

Figure 2
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act

Sect. 508. Electronic Equipment Accessibility
(a) (1) The Secretary, through the National Institute
on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the
Administration of the General Services, in
consultation with the electronics industry, shall
develop and establish guidelines for electronic
office equipment with or without special
(2) The guidelines established pursuant to
paragraph (1) shall be applicable with respect to
electronic equipment, whether purchased or leased.
(3) The initial guidelines shall be established
not later than October 1, 1987, and shall be
periodically revised as technologies advance or

(b) Beginning after September 30, 1988, the Administrator
of General Services shall adopt guidelines for
electronic equipment accessibility established under
subsection (a) for Federal procurement of electronic
equipment. Each agency shall comply with the guidelines
adopted under this subsection.

(c) For the purpose of this section, the term special
peripherals means a special needs aid that provides
access to electronic equipment that is otherwise
inaccessible to a handicapped individual.

6) It usually adds nothing to manufacturing costs for a


The bulk of all accessibility design features cost little or nothing once they are included in the basic design of
the product. For software products the difference in
manufacturing costs is essentially zero. In exchange the
products are almost always easier for everyone to use and
the products are applicable to a wider market.

7) It's the appropriate thing to do.

The ability of people with disabilities to work, receive
an education, or even access information and other
services from their homes, is rapidly becoming dependent
upon their ability to access and use computers. If
computers and application programs are not accessible,
then these individuals will not be able to participate in
education, employment, or daily living. It isn't
appropriate to design software which cuts off that many
people from such an important area when more accessible
software costs no more to manufacturer and is generally
faster, easier, less fatiguing, and less error-prone to
use for everyone.

In summary: If properly done, making software more

- adds little or nothing to the cost to manufacture
- can provide new insights into better human interface
design in general
- can increase the market for a product
- can allow the product to comply with current and
future government purchasing requirements
- allows a large portion of our population to access and
use the software in employment, education, or at home.


[blank page inserted intentionally, to control double-side pagelayout]


.c."Part II: What Problems Do People
with Disabilities Have? and Why?

.c.:Disability has many facets

First, it is important to understand that there are many
different types and severities of impairment which lead to
disabilities. Some types of impairment are:

visual impairment

hearing impairment

movement impairment

cognitive/language impairment

seizure disorders

Within each of these major types, there are many variations and
degrees of impairment. Each of these may present different
barriers and need to be addressed with different strategies.

- Someone with a moderate visual impairment may need some
mechanism to enlarge the image on the screen.

- Someone with a severe visual impairment or who is blind
would find screen enlargement to be of no value and would
need mechanisms to translate the contents of the screen to
speech or braille.

- An individual with a mild hearing impairment may just need
a mechanism to increase the volume.

- An individual with a severe hearing impairment or who is
deaf may need to have auditory information presented in
some visual form.

- An individual with a mild physical impairment may just
need to have the behavior of the keyboard and mouse
changed slightly in order for them to be able to
effectively use the computer.

- An individual with a more severe physical impairment may
need to have a special keyboard that can be operated by
speech, headpointing or eyegaze.


The following pages provide a brief overview of the major typesof impairments, along with a brief discussion of the implications
of these impairments on computer use.

PLEASE NOTE: It is not up to the application software
developer/ manufacturer to directly meet all of these
needs. Section III will discuss the role of application
program manufacturers versus the role of others in
providing accessibility. It is important, however, for
everyone to understand the basic problems faced by
people with different types or degrees of impairment and
their resulting disabilities.


.c.:Visual Impairments

Visual impairment represents a continuum, from very poor vision,
to people who can see light but no shapes, to people who have no
perception of light at all. However, for general discussion it
is useful to think of this population as representing two broad
groups: those with low vision and those who are legally blind.
The National Society for the Prevention of Blindness estimates
that there are 11 million people in the U.S. who are visually
impaired. This includes both people with low vision and those
who are blind.

Low vision is defined as vision that is between 20/40 and 20/200
after correction. (20/200 means that something at 20 feet would
be just as visible as something at 200 feet would be to someone
with normal 20/20 vision) There are 9-10 million people with low
vision. Some of these can read print if it is large and held
close (or viewed through a magnifier). Others can only use their
sight to detect large shapes, colors or contrasts. There are
approximately 1.2 million people with severe visual impairments
who are not legally blind.

A person is termed legally blind when their visual acuity
(sharpness of vision) is 20/200 or worse after correction, or
when their field of vision is less than 20 degrees. There are
approximately half a million people in the U.S. who are legally

Blindness can be present at birth, acquired through illness or
accident, or associated with aging (glaucoma, cataracts, macular
degeneration, optic nerve atrophy, diabetic retinopathy).
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, almost 1
person in every 1,000 under age 45 has a visual impairment of
some type, while 1 in every 13 individuals older than 65 has a
visual impairment which cannot be corrected with glasses. With
current demographic trends toward a larger proportion of elderly,
the prevalence of visual impairments will certainly increase.

.c.::Functional Limitations
Caused by Visual Impairments
Functional limitations of people with visual impairments include
increased sensitivity to glare, viewing the world as through a
yellowed lens, no central vision, no peripheral vision, loss of
visual acuity or focus, poor night vision, reduced color
distinction ability or a general hazing of all vision. Those who
are legally blind may still retain some perception of shape and
contrast or of light vs. dark (the ability to locate a light
source), or they may be totally blind (having no awareness of
environmental light).


.c.::Difficulties Using Computers and SoftwareAs would be expected, people with visual impairments have the
greatest problem with information displayed on the screen.
However, mandatory use of a mouse or other pointing device
requiring eye-hand coordination is also a problem. Special
programs exist to provide individuals with the ability to magnify
the screen image. There are also programs which allow the
individual to have the content of the screen read aloud.
However, application programs sometimes do things in ways that
make it difficult or impossible for these special programs to
work well or at all. Individuals with low vision may also miss
messages which pop up at different points on the screen, since
their attention is usually focused on only a small area of the
screen at any time.

.c.::Access to Documentation
Written operating instructions and other documentation may also
be inaccessible if they are not provided in electronic or
alternate form (e.g., audio tape or braille) and even then people
may have difficulty accessing graphic or pictorial information
included in documentation. Because many visually impaired people
still have some visual capability, many of them can read with the
assistance of magnifiers, bright lighting (for printed text), and
glare reducers. Many such people with low vision are helped
immensely by use of larger lettering, sans-serif typefaces, and
high contrast coloring.

Key coping strategies for those who are blind or severely
visually impaired include the use of braille, large raised
lettering or raised line drawings, braille and audio tape. Note,
however, that braille is preferred by only about 10% of people
who are blind (normally those blind from early in life). Those
who use braille, however, usually have strong preferences for it,
especially for shorter documents. Raised lettering must be large
and is therefore better for providing simple labels on raised
line drawings than for extensive text.


.c.:Hearing Impairments

Hearing impairment is one of the most prevalent chronic
disabilities in the U.S. More than 15 million people have some
form of hearing impairment. Almost two million are deaf.

Hearing impairments are classified into degrees based on the
average hearing level for various frequencies (pitches) by
decibels (volume) required to hear, and also by the ability to
understand speech. Loudness of normal conversation is usually
40-60 decibels. A person is considered deaf when sound must
reach at least 90 decibels (5-10 times louder than normal speech)
to be heard, and even amplified speech cannot be understood, even
with a hearing aid.

Hearing impairments can be found in all age groups, but loss of
hearing acuity is part of the natural aging process. Of those
aged 65 to 74, 23% have hearing impairments, while almost 40%
over age 75 have hearing impairments. The number of individuals
with hearing impairments will increase with the increasing age of
the population and the increase in the severity of noise

Hearing impairment may be sensorineural or conductive.
Sensorineural involves damage to the nerves used in hearing
(i.e., the problem is in transfer from ear to brain). Causes
include aging, exposure to noise, trauma, infection, tumors and

other disease. Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage to
the ear canal and mechanical parts of the inner ear. Causes
include birth defects, trauma, foreign bodies or tumors.

.c.::Functional Limitations
Caused by Hearing Impairments
The functional limitations faced by people with hearing
impairment fall into four categories.

First, individuals may not be able to hear auditory information
if it is not presented loudly enough as compared to the
background noise. The ability to control volume or to plug
headphones or other devices into a headphone jack are the primary
strategies for dealing with this problem.

Second, individuals who are deaf or who have more severe hearing
impairments will not receive any information which is presented
only in auditory form. Beeps which are accompanied by an on-
screen visual indication prevent this problem. They also avoid
the problem of the sound output being too quiet, since the
auditory information is also provided visually. With newer
systems which include voice output, presentation of the text on-
screen or the ability to turn on captions may be necessary.


Third, as voice input becomes more prevalent, it too will presenta problem for many deaf individuals. While many have some
residual speech, which they work to maintain, those who are deaf
from birth or a very early age often are unable to learn to speak
or have very poor speech. Thus, alternatives to voice input will
be necessary for these individuals to access products which
require voice input.

Fourth, many individuals who are deaf communicate primarily
through ASL (American Sign Language). It should be noted,
however, that this is a completely different language from
English. Thus, deaf people who primarily use ASL may understand
English only as a second language (and may therefore not be as
proficient with English as native speakers).

.c.::Access to Support Services
Because individuals who are deaf cannot hear and sometimes cannot
speak, they have difficulty using telephone support services.
Special telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs) have been
developed, however, which allow individuals to communicate over
the phone using text and a modem. In order for these users to
access phone-in support services, software companies would need
to have TDD-equipped support personnel. Individuals who are deaf
are also be unable to take advantage of support systems that use
touch-tone input and recorded voice output.


.c.:Physical Impairments

There is great variation of disability within this category,
including paralysis (complete or partial), severe weakness,
interference with control, missing limbs, and speech impairment.
Causes include cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, traumatic head
injury (includes stroke), injuries or diseases resulting in
amputation, or various diseases such as arthritis, ALS (Lou
Gehrig's Disease), multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy.

Cerebral Palsy (CP). CP is defined as damage to the motor areas
of the brain prior to brain maturity (in most cases, this occurs
before, during or shortly after birth). There are 400,000-
700,000 individuals in the U.S. with CP. The most common types
are spastic, where the muscles are tense and contracted and
voluntary movement is very difficult, and athetoid, where there
is constant, uncontrolled motion. Most cases are combinations of
the two types.

Spinal Cord Injury. Spinal cord injury can result in paralysis
or paresis (weakening). The extent of paralysis/paresis and the
parts of the body effected are determined by how high or low on
the spine the damage occurs and the type of damage to the cord.
Quadriplegia involves all four limbs and is caused by injury to
the cervical (upper) region of the spine; paraplegia involves
only the lower extremities. There are 150,000 to 175,000 people
with spinal cord injuries in the U.S.

Head Injury and Stroke. The term "head injury" is used to
describe a huge array of injuries, including concussion, brain
stem injury, closed head injury, cerebral hemorrhage, depressed
skull fracture, foreign object (e.g., bullet), anoxia, and post-
operative infections. Like spinal cord injuries, head injury and
also stroke often results in paralysis and paresis, but there can
be a variety of other effects as well. Currently about 1,000,000
Americans (1 in 250) suffer from effects of head injuries, and
over 2,000,000 people in the U.S. have suffered strokes.
However, many of these are not permanently or severely disabled.

Arthritis. Arthritis is defined as pain in joints, usually
reducing range of motion and causing weakness. Rheumatoid
arthritis is a chronic syndrome. Osteoarthritis is a
degenerative joint disease. About 1% of the U.S. population (or
2.4 million people) are affected by arthritis.

ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). ALS is a fatal degenerative disease
of the central nervous system characterized by slowly progressive
paralysis of the voluntary muscles. The major symptom is
progressive muscle weakness involving the limbs, trunk, breathing
muscles, throat and tongue, leading to partial paralysis and
severe speech difficulties. This is not a rare disease. About 2
out of 125,000 people will develop ALS each year. It strikes


mostly those between age 40 and 70, and men twice as often aswomen.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is defined as a progressive disease
of the central nervous system characterized by the destruction of
the insulating material covering nerve fibers. The problems
these individuals experience include poor muscle control,
weakness and fatigue, difficulty walking, talking, seeing,
sensing or grasping objects. It is estimated that about 300,000
in the U.S. suffer from this disease.

Muscular Dystrophy (MD). MD is a hereditary, progressive
condition resulting in muscular weakness and loss of control,
contractions and difficulty in walking and breathing. About
10,000 new cases are reported each year.

.c.::Functional Limitations
Caused by Physical Impairments
Problems faced by individuals with physical impairments include
poor muscle control, weakness and fatigue, difficulty talking,
seeing, sensing or grasping (due to pain or weakness), difficulty
reaching things, and difficulty doing complex or compound
manipulations (push and turn). Individuals with spinal cord
injuries may be unable to use their limbs and may use
"mouthsticks" for most manipulations.

Individuals with movement impairments may have difficulty with
programs which require a response in a specified period of time,
especially if it is short. Individuals with impaired movement or
who must use a mouthstick or headstick have difficulty in using
pointing devices. Programs which require the use of a mouse or
pointing devices and have no option for keyboard control of the
program present problems. Individuals who can use only one hand
or who use a headstick or mouthstick to operate the keyboard have
difficulty pressing two keys at the same time.


.c.:Cognitive/Language Impairments

This category contains a wide range of impairments including
impairments of thinking, memory, language, learning and
perception. Causes include birth defects, head injuries, stroke,
diseases and aging-related conditions. Some commonly known types
and causes of cognitive/language impairment are:

Mental Retardation. A person is considered mentally retarded if
they have an IQ below 70 (average IQ is 100) and if they have
difficulty functioning independently. An estimated 1% of
Americans (2.4 million) are mentally retarded. For most, the
cause is unknown, although infections, Down's Syndrome, premature
birth, birth trauma, or lack of oxygen may all cause retardation.
Those considered mildly retarded (80-85%) have an IQ between 55
and 69 and achieve 4th to 7th grade levels. They usually
function well in the community and can hold down semi-skilled and
unskilled jobs.

Language and Learning Disabilities. This is a general term
referring to a wide range of disorders manifested by significant
difficulties in listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning,
and calculating/integrating perceptual/cognitive information.
These disorders are presumed to be due to central nervous system
dysfunction. It is estimated that over 43% of children in
special education programs in the U.S. (1.9 million) have some
type of language and learning disability.

Head Injury and Stroke. This group includes individuals with
closed and open head injuries as well as those suffering strokes.
These injuries usually result in physical impairments, cognitive
impairments or both. There are approximately 400,000 to 600,000
people with head injuries and approximately 2 million people who
have suffered a stroke.

Alzheimer's Disease. This is a degenerative disease that leads
to progressive intellectual decline, confusion and
disorientation. 5% of Americans over 65 have Alzheimer's; 20% of
those above 80 have it.

Dementia. This is a brain disease that results in the
progressive loss of mental functions, often beginning with
memory, learning, attention and judgment deficits. The
underlying cause is obstruction of blood flow to the brain. Some
kinds of dementia are curable, while others are not. 5% of the
population over 65 are severely demented, with 10% mildly or
moderately impaired. 30% of those over 85 are affected.

.c.::Functional Limitations
Caused by Cognitive Impairments
Cognitive impairments are varied, but may be categorized as
memory, perception, problem-solving, and conceptualizing


disabilities. Memory problems include difficulty gettinginformation from short-term storage (20-40 seconds, 5-10 items),
long term and remote memory. This includes difficulty
recognizing and retrieving information. Perception problems
include difficulty taking in, attending to, and discriminating
sensory information. Difficulties in problem solving include
recognizing the problem, identifying, choosing and implementing
solutions, and evaluation of outcome. Conceptual difficulties
can include problems in sequencing, generalizing previously
learned information, categorizing, cause and effect, abstract
concepts, comprehension and skill development. Language
impairments can cause difficulty in comprehension and/or
expression of written and/or spoken language.

Approximately 1 million U.S. workers (age 18-69) report impaired
abilities to read, reason and/or understand spoken or written
information as a result of a chronic disabling condition.

There are few assistive devices for cognitively impaired people.
Simple cuing aids or memory aids are sometimes used. As a rule,
these individuals benefit from use of simple displays, low
language loading, use of patterns, simple, obvious sequences and
cued sequences.


.c.:Seizure Disorders

A number of injuries or conditions can result in seizure
disorders. Seizures can vary from momentary loss of attention to
grand mal seizures which result in the severe loss of motor
control and awareness.

Seizures can be triggered in people with photosensitive epilepsy
by rapidly flashing light, particularly in the 10-25 hz range.
This can be caused by screen refresh or by rapidly flashing
different images on the screen. The brighter the flash, and the
larger the portion of the screen involved, the more significant
the visual stimulation. Somewhere between 1 in 25,000 and 1 in
10,000 people in the US have seizure disorders.

.c.:Multiple Impairments

It is all too common to find that whatever caused a single type
of impairment also caused others. This is particularly true
where disease or trauma is severe, or in the case of impairments
caused by aging.

Diabetes, which can cause blindness, also often causes loss of
sensation in the fingers. Unfortunately, this makes braille or
raised lettering impossible to read. Cerebral palsy is
accompanied by visual impairments in 40% of cases, by hearing and
language disorders in 20% of cases, and by cognitive impairments
in 60% of cases. Individuals who have hearing impairments caused
by aging also often have visual impairments.


.c."Part III: What is the Role of Standard Application
Software Manufacturers in Computer Accessibility?

And how does it relate...
to the role of computer manufacturers?
to the role of operating system manufacturers?
to the role of third-party assistive device

.c.:"Computer Accessibility: A Cooperative Undertaking

As mentioned earlier, seeing to it that computers and software
are more accessible is not just the responsibility of application
software vendors. In fact, many aspects of computer access are
not best addressed by them. On the other hand, there are some
components of accessibility that can only be addressed at the
application software level.

To understand the role of application software manufacturers, it
is important to look at the roles of all of the players.

There are three major players that must work together in order to
provide more accessible computers and software. They each have
their own unique role. They all must also cooperate with each

1) Hardware and operating system manufacturers,

2) Third-party assistive device manufacturers, and

3) Standard application software manufacturers.


.c.::The Role of the Hardware and Operating
System Manufacturers

Where possible, the computer platform itself should be made
directly accessible by people with disabilities. The computer
"platform" is defined here as:

a) the input, output, and media hardware (keyboards,
monitors, disk drives)

b) the input and output drivers which control behavior of the
input/output devices

c) the system software tools used by the applications for
input, output, and program control

In many cases, particularly for individuals with mild or moderate
disabilities, slight changes in the hardware or operating systems
can make the computers directly and completely accessible without
any further modification. Once these modifications are
incorporated into the design of the hardware or software drivers,
there is little or no additional manufacturing cost. This type
of accessibility is called "direct accessibility," since it
allows individuals with disabilities to use the computers
directly as they come "from the box." This is the most cost-
effective type of accessibility and the most desirable, since it
allows individuals to access computers as they find them in
public, educational, or employment environments. Accessibility
features implemented at this level also provide the user with a
common access technique which they can use across all of the
different software programs.

A second role for standard hardware and operating system
manufacturers is to design the computer platform to facilitate
the connection and use of special access tools (software and
hardware) for individuals with more severe impairments (see next

.c.::Role of Third-Party Access

Although direct accessibility of computers is by far the best
situation, the type or severity of some people's impairments
precludes their ability to use computers as they come "from the
box" (even if the computers have been designed to include as many
access features as practical). In these cases, special
interfaces, software programs, or other accessories are required
in order to allow the individuals to access and use the


computers. The role of third-party or "special access"manufacturers is to develop the special hardware and software
tools, and to make them available to people who require them. As
noted above, standard hardware and operating system manufacturers
can greatly facilitate this process by designing their hardware
and operating system platforms to be compatible with the
connection and use of such special access tools.

Accessibility via third-party products is not as desirable or
convenient as direct accessibility. Individuals who have to rely
on third-party access devices do not have the ability to just
walk up and use computers in libraries, laboratories, or
employment situations. They must carry their special interfaces
with them and be able to connect them to these computers before
they have access. Third-party products do, however, provide much
more powerful and efficient interfaces to computers for
individuals with more severe impairments. It is therefore an
important component in system accessibility, and the only
practical approach for some individuals with severe or multiple

.c.::Role of Application Software

The first two groups discussed (the standard platform
manufacturers and the third-party special access manufacturers)
can, by working together, overcome most of the access problems
faced by people with disabilities. However, access to the
computer and its operating system does not guarantee full access
to application software, and running application programs is
really the only use of a computer for most users. Some aspects
of the computer's behavior are completely in the control of the
application software. Therefore, effective access to
applications requires cooperation by the developers of
application software. There are three general ways that
manufacturers of application software can improve access to and
usability of their programs.

1) Cooperate with other access features and utilities
Not all information needed to operate the program is
available at the system level. Cooperation by the
application program is therefore necessary in order for
standard or special access features to be effective.

For example, most programs running on graphics
operating system use the system tools to display
their menus. Access features can thus be designed
which attach themselves to the system tools and
provide access to all of these menus. Occasionally,
however, an application will create a custom menu or
palette without using the standard system menu tools,


or by using them for only part of the menu function. In this case, the special access features attached to
the operating system would be unable to determine
what the items in the special palette were in order
to present them to the individual with the disability
(e.g., if they were blind) and to allow the
individual with a disability to choose from among

2) Tune the user interface to allow efficient use by people
with different strengths
In some cases, the standard access features built into the
operating system may allow the person with a disability to
use a program, but only in some round-about or inefficient
manner. A slight change or option in the application
program could substantially increase the efficiency with
which individuals with disabilities could operate the
program. Since the person with a disability has to
compete with their able-bodied colleagues, the ability to
operate the program efficiently can be important to their
maintaining comparative productivity to their colleagues.

For example, dialog boxes and many interactive
programs may have numerous buttons in them. An
individual who can tab between the various buttons
and fields would have access to the dialog box.
However, this type of operation would be much slower
than that of other users, who could simply click on
the desired buttons to access them rather than having
to tab around. Having the ability to type a command
key to activate any button directly would greatly
increase the speed with which a person with a
disability (and anyone else whose hands were on the
keyboard) could access and use these programs.

3) Make sure your program doesn't break or interfere with
existing access features or utilities
Application programs can unknowingly include features
which cause standard or third-party access features to
break, or just not work with that program or function of
the program. Understanding what accessibility features
exist and how they function can help to prevent this
problem. It also makes the program generally more robust
and compatible with other nondisability-related third-
party add-on programs.

For example, using nonstandard techniques for reading
the keyboard, writing to the screen, or showing a
cursor may be done for performance or other reasons,
but could circumvent or break access software.
Several major application programs now do this.


.c.::Role of Systems Integrators

In addition to the three major players, there is sometimes a
fourth player, the systems integrator, particularly in federal
acquisitions. Since systems integrators do not themselves
generally create software or hardware, their role has not been
well explored to date. However, for federal acquisitions, system
integrators are often the individuals who select the hardware and
software offered, and the individuals who provide the follow-up
support. Their role in overall accessibility for offerings to
the federal government is therefore substantial. Three key areas
where systems integrators can have a major effect are:

a) the accessibility of the hardware and operating system
platforms they select to use in their offerings,

b) the accessibility of the application software they select
to use in their offering (that is,

- the software's compatibility with disability access;

- the accessibility of software documentation;

- support services provided by the software vendor for
users with disabilities),

c) the accessibility of their training programs and materials
to government employees who have disabilities, and

d) the ability of integrators to both set up and provide
maintenance support for federal employees with
disabilities who are using the hardware/software packages
offered by the systems integrator.

.c.:::Selection of the Hardware / Operating System Platform

In the past, there have been quite a few compatible hardware
platforms and system integrators could choose between different
vendors in putting together their packages. This has not
generally been true for operating systems. However, there is an
increasing compatibility and inter-operability between operating
systems. For example, there are three vendors for DOS, as well
as other operating systems which allow DOS programs to be run
within them. Windows applications can be run within Windows, but
can also be run within OS/2 and other operating environments.
This, combined with the increasing cross-platform compatibility
of applications, is leading to a situation where systems
integrators can begin to choose between both different hardware
and different operating system vendors in putting together their
packages. Since these different hardware platforms and,
especially, different operating systems are beginning to differ
in terms of their built-in accessibility features, system


integrators can put together more or less accessible offerings tothe government or other purchasers by selecting more (or less)
accessible versions of the hardware and operating systems.

.c.:::Selection of Standard Application Software

Similarly, the increasing compatibility between applications,
either directly or via translators, is providing much greater
choice. Again, system integrators can provide a much more
accessible package by selecting application software which is
itself more accessible and compatible with the access strategies
or aids. Selecting software which is more accessible will also
greatly reduce the problems faced by systems integrators when
trying to provide support to federal (and other) employees with
disabilities who are using the systems integrator's package. It
would both reduce the number of compatibility problems that would
arise and, if the original application software vendors provided
disability access support, provide the systems integrator with a
better and lower-cost mechanism for addressing any compatibility
problems that did arise.

.c.:::Accessibility of Training Programs and Materials

In addition to delivering the software and hardware, many systems
integrators also provide training for the client's employees in
the use of their products. Since the employees they will be
training may have disabilities, the training materials and
documentation used by the systems integrators would need to be
accessible to these employees as well. Again, choosing hardware
and software which already has accessible forms of documentation
can greatly simplify the systems integrator's work in this area.

.c.:::Ability of Integrators to Set Up
and Provide Maintenance for Their Systems

In addition to the training they provide, systems integrators
often provide continued support and maintenance for their systems
after delivery. If some of their client's employees have
disabilities, the systems integrators may need to provide support
for these individuals as well (both those employed at the time of
the bid and individuals with disabilities who are hired later).
This may involve trouble-shooting systems provided by the system
integrators or compatibility issues between existing access
software and the package sold by the integrators.

As mentioned above, the role of the systems integrator is not
well understood, and points discussed here are therefore
preliminary in nature. However, it is clear that the systems
integrators will play a key role in determining the actual access
that federal employees with disabilities will have to their
computers and information processing environments. It is also


clear that system integrators will have major impact on whichsoftware packages in fact are offered to the federal government
for most of their packaged buys. Finally, it is clear that
systems integrators cannot themselves make the hardware and
software in their packages more accessible or compatible with
special access products from third-party vendors. They will have
to rely upon selecting those hardware, operating system, and
application software products which are most accessible.

NOTE: This White Paper is directed toward the accessibility
issues as they relate to application software developers. There
is a separate document, titled Considerations in the Design of
Computers and Operating Systems to Increase Their Accessibility
to Persons with Disabilities, which has been developed by and for
hardware and operating system manufacturers. At present, there
is no document tailored to the needs of systems integrators.
Because of their key role in federal acquisitions, and the fact
that they face different problems and questions in making the
systems they offer more accessible, a separate tailored document
should be developed to address their needs.


[blank page inserted intentionally, to control double-side pagelayout]


.c."Part IV: What Are Others Doing that
Application Software Manufacturers
Can Take Advantage Of?

In the previous section, the roles of standard platform
manufacturers and third-party special access
manufacturers were described. The purpose of this
section is to provide an overview of the access work of
these other two groups and how application software
manufacturers can take advantage of this work to solve
most of the access issues for their programs. A
thorough understanding of this section is necessary in
order for application software manufacturers to avoid
duplicating effort and solving problems which are best
solved at these other levels. It is also important for
application software manufacturers to understand these
strategies in order to be compatible with them and to
understand the aspects of accessibility that are not
covered by them.

For the purposes of this discussion, the solution
strategies which are provided both by the standard
platform manufacturers and by third-party manufacturers
are grouped together and presented by impairment area.


.c.:Access Strategies for Individuals with
Visual Impairments
(Available via Platform or Third Party

The access strategies used by people with visual impairments fall
into two major categories: enlargement of the image on the
screen, and presentation of visual information in some other form
(e.g., speech or braille). People with low vision generally use
both strategies, while people who are completely blind must rely
on the second approach.

(Please note: The strategies described below and on the
following pages in this section are already provided
(or will be) by computer manufacturers, operating
systems, or third-party assistive device manufacturers.
They are not features that application software
designers need to add to their software; only things
that they need to be aware of and to facilitate rather
than obstruct.)

.c.::Low Vision

For individuals with mild to moderate visual impairments, the
ability to enlarge the fonts (only) used on the screen may be all
that is necessary. Within text-only documents, using "large
type" is very straightforward, since most graphics-based programs
allow the individual to select the font size to be used on-
screen. Utilities also exist which allow one to use a slightly
larger font in the system menus.

Simply enlarging the font used on the screen, however, only works
for individuals needing moderate character enlargement. For
individuals with low vision, the image on the screen must often
be magnified 4-16 times. Also, the entire image on the screen
needs to be enlarged, not just the alphanumeric characters. To
do this, some type of overall screen enlargement utility or
program is required. These utilities or programs create a
virtual image which is much bigger than the actual monitor
screen. The monitor screen itself then becomes a "viewport"
which can be moved about over the virtual screen. Using this
technique, the individual can only see a small portion of overall
screen at a time. (As a result, the effect is similar to a
normally sighted person trying to use a computer while looking
down a cardboard tube such as that found in a roll of paper
towels.) Such screen enlargement utilities allow the individual
to enlarge the text as much as they like (up to one character
filling the entire screen). They usually also have a mechanism
built in to allow the "viewport" to automatically follow the
movement of the mouse or cursors as the individual types.


Application developers should note that it is important forscreen reading or enlargement access software to be able to
identify events which occur in different areas of the screen.
This is necessary so that the access software can automatically
move the "viewport" to that point on the screen in order to avoid
the user missing important events occurring outside of the
viewport. It is also important to maintain a consistent screen
layout. The user will then know where to find things such as
prompts, status indicators, menus, etc.

.c.::Blind Access (also used by individuals with low vision)

For individuals who cannot read the image on the screen even when
enlarged, some mechanism for presenting the information in
nonvisual form is necessary. The two most common forms for doing
this are speech and braille.

Screen reading programs allow the individual to move about on the
screen and have any text read aloud to them. In graphical
environments with multiple windows, screen readers must also be
able to allow the individual to navigate around between windows
and among the different elements of a window (scroll bars, zoom
boxes, window sizing controls, etc.). They must also provide the
individual with a means to deal with icons and other graphic
information. For stereotypic images which always appear the
same, such as scroll bars and icons, names or labels can be given
to each object or icon. When the icons are encountered, their
names or labels can be read aloud.

Application programs can facilitate or inhibit screen reading
programs' ability to do this, however. For example, a tool bar
which is drawn as a single graphic element cannot be easily
deciphered by an access program. A tool bar where each tool is
drawn using a separate draw command can be easily dissected, and
the individual tool images extracted and named.

.c.::Advanced Graphic Access Techniques (for GUIs)

Screen reading programs which currently exist on the Macintosh
and are being developed for OS/2 and Microsoft Windows are
capable of providing full access to the basic operating system
constructs (windows, menu bars, dialog boxes, etc.) as well as
providing access to text within application program documents (as
long as the text drawing tools of the operating system are used
to create the text image). In order to access information which
is drawing or picture-based (line drawings, charts and diagrams,
floor plans, etc.), several advanced strategies are being

One approach involves the use of a virtual tactile tablet with a
tactile puck/mouse. A vibrating tactile array of 100 pins is
mounted on a special puck/mouse. As the mouse is moved about on
the tablet, the tactile representation of the information on the
screen is provided to the individual's fingertip. In this


fashion, the individual can actually feel the information on thescreen. Coupled with voice output screen reading features, this
system allows the individual to feel the image on the screen and
to have any words on the screen read aloud.

Other experimental techniques being examined are routines which
would automatically recognize and describe verbally stereotypic
information presentations formats (bar charts, pie charts, etc.)
and routines which would provide special image enhancement (edge
detection/enhancement, etc.) to make complex graphics simpler to
tactually explore.


In addition to speech output, braille can also be used. Since
braille is essentially a tactile alphabet, it can be used instead
of speech to present the information to the user. Special
displays of 20 or 40 braille cells with electromechanical moving
pins can provide refreshable or dynamic braille displays that can
be continually changed by the computer. As a result, anything
that is printed in alphanumerics or which can be described in
speech can be presented on a dynamic braille display. This is an
effective and preferred means for accessing text by some people
who are blind. For individuals who are deaf-blind, and can
neither read the text on the screen nor hear spoken output,
braille is essential for access.

.c.::Input and Control Systems for People with Low

In addition to problems in accessing the screen, individuals who
are blind also have difficulty in using input devices which
require vision. For example, some keyboards have electronically
locking keys, such as the Num Lock, Scroll Lock, and Caps Lock
keys on an IBM PC or compatible. Small lights are provided on
the keyboard to allow people who can see to determine whether
these keys are in their locked or unlocked mode. Individuals who
are blind are unable to determine the status of these keys unless
there is some visual indication provided on the screen where
their screenreaders can access it. Some application programs
provide this. In addition, some software utilities and most
screen reading software provide some auditory cues to allow the
individual who is blind to know whether these particular keys are
in locked or unlocked mode. It is important for application
software to use the status flags in the system and ensure that
these flags and lights are set to agree with the program's use of
these keys.

A more serious problem for individuals who are blind is
applications which require use of the mouse. The mouse by its
very nature requires some type of eye-hand coordination. For
individuals who are blind, this type of eye-hand coordination is
impossible. Some blind access software packages provide
mechanisms which automatically move the mouse cursor about the


screen as they read or move between window elements. Anotherstrategy which can provide some access to mouse-like operations
is the use of the tactile mouse discussed above. For these
access techniques to work within the application windows
themselves, however, they may require some cooperation from the
application program.


.c.:Access Strategies for Individuals with
Hearing Impairments
(Available via Platform or Third Party

Individuals with hearing impairments currently have little
difficulty in using computers. Some computers, such as the
Macintosh computers and the IBM PS/1, have volume controls and
headphone jacks which allow the connection of headphones or
amplifiers/speakers to facilitate their use by individuals who
have mild hearing impairments. For individuals who cannot hear,
onscreen indication of beeps and other sounds can be provided.
Currently, the Macintosh has a feature where the menu bar will
flash whenever a sound is emitted if the volume control is turned
to zero. IBM's new L40 SX laptop computer has a small LCD
display which flashes a symbol of a speaker whenever a tone is
emitted from the computer, thus providing a visual indication of
the auditory sound. The AccessDOS package distributed by IBM
also includes a feature called "ShowSounds" which provides a
screen flash whenever the speaker on the computer is used. There
are also other third-party products, such as SeeBeep, which
provide visual indications on the screen when a sound is emitted
from a PC.

In addition, a system-wide "ShowSounds" flag is currently being
advocated for all operating systems. By implementing the
"ShowSounds" flag at the system level, the flag could be used by
all application programs to determine if the user would like
visual indication of any sounds made by the application programs.
If an individual was in a noisy environment (such as an airplane
or a factory) or had difficulty hearing, they could set the
ShowSounds flag. The operating system and all applications which
emitted sounds could then check that flag. If it were turned on,
they would accompany any auditory sounds with some type of visual
indication. Some applications already provide some type of
visual indication to accompany many (but not all) sounds. If the
ShowSound flag were set, however, it would be an indication that
all sound output should be accompanied by some type of visual

Implementation of the ShowSounds flag would also allow
application programs to have closed captioning. That is, newer
programs which include speech output could check for the
ShowSounds flag and, if it were set, pop up a small window with
the same text that was being spoken. Because this caption would
only appear when the ShowSounds flag was set, it would be called
a "closed caption." Similarly, if other auditory information
were presented which was necessary for the operation of the
program, a small indicator or caption describing the sound could
be presented if the ShowSounds flag were set. This descriptor of
the sound should preferably be text rather than an icon, in order
to facilitate access by individuals who are deaf-blind and using


a screen reading program (using braille) to present theinformation to them.

As software packages move toward more multi-media presentations,
the ability of application software to provide closed-captioning
will increase in importance.

NOTE: The ShowSounds flag does not currently exist within
standard operating systems. However, discussions are ongoing
with the major operating system manufacturers to include the flag
in future releases of their operating systems.


.c.:Access Strategies for Individuals with
Physical Impairments
(Available via Platform or Third Party

Problems faced by individuals with physical impairments vary
widely. Some individuals are very weak, and have limited range
of motion. Other individuals, such as those with cerebral palsy,
have erratic motor control. Some individuals have missing or
paralyzed limbs, while others, such as those with arthritis, have
limited manipulative and grasping ability. People with physical
impairments can have difficulty manipulating media, carrying out
quick actions, operating input devices requiring fine motor
control, and pressing multiple keys or buttons at the same time.

Access strategies can be broken down into roughly three

1) Modifications to the way the standard input devices (e.g.,
keyboard and mouse) work

2) Alternate input techniques which replace the standard
input devices

3) Modifications to facilitate manipulation of controls and
media (disks, etc.)

.c.::Modification to Standard Keyboard Devices

Some individuals are unable to use the standard keyboard, but
could use it if it behaved slightly differently. A number of
standard modifications are now available which allow the user to
modify the way a standard keyboard works in order for it to
function better for people with disabilities. Four examples of
keyboards modifications are StickyKeys, SlowKeys, BounceKeys and
RepeatKeys. Many of these features (and others) are now
distributed by the major computer companies as standard parts of,
or extensions to, their standard operating systems (see Figure

Figure 3 shows the availability of StickyKeys, RepeatKeys,
SlowKeys, BounceKeys, MouseKeys, ToggleKeys, SerialKeys,
and ShowSounds on Macintosh and IBM computers. The
Macintosh has all but BounceKeys and SerialKeys built
directly into the operating system. IBM has a program
called AccessDOS which is distributed by IBM as a free
software package and contains all of the features. The
Access Utility for Windows 3.0 is distributed as a part of
the third-party drivers package available from Microsoft
and contains all but the BounceKeys and ShowSounds
features, which will be available in a future update.


StickyKeys is a feature which eliminates the need to pressseveral keys simultaneously. For individuals who type with only
one hand, finger, or a head- or mouthstick, it is difficult or
impossible to press a modifier key (such as Shift, Control, or
Alt) and another key at the same time. When invoked, StickyKeys
allows the individual to type modifier keys in sequence with
other keys -- for example, they can press the Control key and
then the H key to get a Control-H.

RepeatKeys is a feature which allows the repeat rate on the
keyboard to be adjusted. Some individuals get unwanted multiple
characters because the key repeat rate is faster than their
reaction time. RepeatKeys allows them to change the speed of the
repeat function and/or to turn it off.

SlowKeys is a feature which facilitates use of the keyboard by
individuals who have poor motor control which causes them to
accidentally bump keys as they move around between desired keys
on the keyboard. The SlowKeys feature allows the user to add a
delay to the keyboard so that the key must be held down for a
moment or two before it is accepted. In this fashion, the
keyboard would only accept keys which were pressed deliberately
for a moment, and would ignore keys which were bumped.

BounceKeys is a feature to facilitate keyboard use by individuals
with tremor or other conditions which cause them to accidentally
double-press a key when attempting to press or release it.
BounceKeys does not slow down the operation of the keyboard, but
does prevent the keyboard from accepting two very quick presses
of the same key. Thus, with BounceKeys on, individuals who
"bounce" when either pressing or releasing a key would only get a
single character. To type double characters, the user would
simply have to pause a moment between typing the key two
successive times.

In addition to these software modifications to the keyboard, the
use of a keyguard is also common. A keyguard is a flat plate
which fits over the top of a keyboard and has holes corresponding
to each key. The individual can then rest their hand on the
keyguard and poke a finger down through the hole to type. The
keyguard both helps prevent the typing of unwanted characters and
provides a stable platform which the individual can use to brace
their hand for additional control in typing.

Many individuals with physical impairments are unable to control
the standard mouse. In some cases, mouse alternates such as
trackballs can be used. One software approach which allows the
mouse to be controlled from the keyboard is called MouseKeys.
When MouseKeys is invoked, the number keypad on the computer
switches into a mouse-control mode. The keys can then be used to
move the mouse cursor around on the screen. Keys on the keypad
also allow the mouse button to be "clicked" or to be locked and
released to facilitate dragging. The MouseKeys feature works at
the same time as a standard mouse or trackball; it is therefore
possible to use these other pointing devices to move about on the
screen, and then switch to the keypad for fine movement of the


mouse. Single-pixel of the mouse is very easy using MouseKeys.In fact, it is often used by nondisabled graphic software users
for precise pixel movements which are difficult or impossible
with the standard mouse. For individuals who have good head
control, there are also head-operated mice which allow the
individual to essentially use their head to point and to use a
puff on a straw to act as mouse button.

While modification to the standard keyboard allows input by some
individuals, alternate "special" keyboards or input devices work
better for others. These alternate keyboards take many different
forms, including expanded keyboards, miniature keyboards,
headpointing keyboards, eyegaze-operated keyboards, Morse code
input, scanning keyboards which require operation of only a
single switch (operated by hand, head, or eyeblink), and voice
operated keyboards. Some of these keyboards connect to the
computer in place of or along with the standard computer
keyboard. Other alternate keyboards connect to the serial or
parallel port on the computer, and use special software to cause
their input to be injected into the operating system and treated
as keystrokes from the standard keyboard. In still other cases,
the "keyboard" may appear onscreen in a special window. The
individual then selects keys on that video keyboard using a
headpointer, a single switch scanning technique, Morse code, or
other special input technique. The keys selected on the video
keyboards are then fed through the operating system so that they
appear to application programs as if they had come from the
standard keyboard.

For programs which provide mouse support, these alternate input
devices can often also create simulated mouse activity in order
to the user to access drawing, dragging, and other mouse-based
functions of the application programs.


.c."Part V: What Should Application Software Manufacturers Do?
-- Overview --

Six basic ways for making application software more accessible

1) Cooperation with access utilities and access features in
the operating system

2) Designing software to minimize the skills and abilities
needed to operate it

3) Providing more accessible documentation and training

4) Inclusion of access software and hardware in the alpha and
beta testing stages of product development (to ensure
their compatibility)

5) Provision of special customer support lines or specialists
within your customer support structure who are familiar
with disability access software and hardware, as well as
any compatibility issues and solutions for your software

6) Provision of special developer support lines or contact
people for third-party manufacturers of access software
and hardware

.c.::1) Cooperation with Access Utilities and
Access Features in the Operating System

.c.:::Using System Tools and Conventions/Standards

The most important and easiest mechanism for ensuring greater
compatibility with access software is to use the tools and
conventions which have been established for the operating system.
Most access software works through modifications to the system
tools, or bases its operation on assumptions that the standard
conventions for the system will be followed. As long as
application software programs use the system tools and
conventions, there is generally little problem. For example,
programs that do not use the BIOS or toolbox to write to screen,
that do not use system cursors, that get keystrokes from the
keyboard in unusual or nonstandard fashion, or that write
directly to the screen rather than using standard screen drawing
tools can cause problems for special access software.


.c.:::Provide Software Access to Commands
When commands are all executed through the menus, access software
has very little trouble in both accessing listings of the
available commands and activating the commands. Program commands
which are issued in other fashions--such as tool bars, special
palettes, etc.--present problems. It is difficult to get a
listing of all of the commands (for example, to present to
somebody who is blind). It is also difficult to directly
activate the various commands (for example, by an alternate
access routine for someone with a severe physical disability).
Where all of the palette and tool bar commands are available via
the standard menus, this is not a problem. When these commands,
however, are not otherwise available, it is important that access
somehow be achieved.

Access to commands in a program consists of four parts.
Fortunately, the movement toward inter-application control is
making the commands in a program more accessible electronically.
Features like balloon help are also useful for providing
descriptions of the commands and buttons on the screen.
Eventually, it would be nice to be able to:

a) Obtain a listing of all of the possible commands

b) Obtain help text for each of the commands

c) Be able to execute all of the commands from an external

d) Be able to read the status of user-settable parameters
(and be able to set all such parameters) from an external

When these capabilities are all available in a standardized
format, it will make the process of developing access programs
much simpler and more complete. In the meantime, programs which
have most of their commands available for inter-program control
may consider making the rest of the program commands available as

.c.::2) Designing Software to Minimize the
Skills and Abilities Needed to Operate It

The best way to view people who have disabilities is to think of
them simply as individuals with reduced abilities rather than as
a person without an ability. The reduction in their abilities
may vary from slight to severe. The more you can reduce the
sensory, physical, or cognitive skills necessary to operate the
program, the more people will be able to directly use the
program. It also makes it easier for everyone else to use the
program. Some examples: using a slightly larger or clearer type,
using menus which can be scanned rather than commands which must
be memorized, keeping menus short and dialog boxes uncluttered,
reducing or eliminating the need for fine motor control.


It is also helpful to provide multiple ways of accomplishingfunctions in order to adapt to different needs or weaknesses.
For example, having pull-down menus reduces the cognitive load
and makes it easier to operate computers. While providing hot
keys reduces the motor load and makes it easier and faster for
individuals with physical disabilities to use computers,
providing both addresses the needs of both groups and gives all
users more options to meet their preferences. A second example
would be the ability to use either the scroll bar or the keyboard
to select position within a document.

The third general strategy is to provide layering to reduce
visual and cognitive complexity. One example of this are
programs which provide both short and long forms of their menus.
The use of option buttons in dialog boxes or other techniques for
nesting complexity would be a second example of this.

.c.::3) Providing More Accessible Documentation and Training

.c.:::Electronic Documentation

An important component to the accessibility of any software is
the ability of the user to access the documentation.
Documentation can be made available in a number of formats,
including standard print, large print, braille, audio tape, and
electronic form. The most universal of these is the electronic
format. In order to be really accessible for people who are
blind, the information should be available as an ASCII text file.
This would involve converting photographs and diagrams into
descriptions, and identifying other techniques for providing
emphasis to particular words other than the use of different
fonts and highlights. Once a file is available in a pure ASCII
form, it can be easily accessed using screen readers as well as
translated and printed out as braille or recorded in audio tape

Although individuals who are blind will find an ASCII text file
to be the most useful form, individuals who have severe physical
disabilities may find that an electronic copy of your manual
which also provided pictures and diagrams will be the most useful
form. The electronic form of the manual would allow people with
physical disabilities to have access that they would not normally
have, because of the difficulty in manipulating books. Having a
full graphic version of the manual would provide them with the
maximum amount of information.

Someday, when "electronic paper" is common, having the manual in
both ASCII and "electronic paper" would be optimal. In the
meantime, the ASCII version is the most universally accessible


.c.:::Print Documentation
Even the design of standard print manuals can be done to better
facilitate their direct use by individuals with visual and other
impairments. Some things which can be done to improve the
accessibility of standard print documents are:

- Using a binding which allows a book to open and lie flat.
(Try turning the pages of your documentation using the
eraser end of a pencil.)

- Avoiding the use of very light colors which might not be
easily reproduced by copy machines, especially for
important information. (Individuals with low vision will
often make a "large print" copy of a manual by running it
through an enlarging copy machine.)

- Avoiding color coding, or making it redundant with pattern
or some other type of coding. (This helps avoid problems
for individuals having color blindness, and facilitates
the making of large print versions of manuals using
enlarging copier machines.)

- Using a sans serif font for non-running text.

- Information that is presented in charts or diagrams should
also be presented redundantly in text. (This facilitates
the scanning of documents into ASCII text files using
optical character recognition technologies.)

One form of electronic documentation which is becoming
increasingly more prevalent is on-line help. As long as the help
is presented using standard screen-writing routines, access
should be no problem. If pictures are used within the on-line
help, then text should accompany the picture and provide enough
information that the picture or diagram is a redundant visual

Translating documentation from its standard print form into an
ASCII text file which is effectively formatted can take some
effort. However, there are programs set up in the United States
which can provide technical assistance in the translation
process. (See Appendix B, Resources Available to Help.)


In addition to the printed and on-line documentation, many
programs have videotapes or other multi-media training materials
available for them. In addition, some companies provide training
courses, either in the direct use of their product or for
programmers or other professionals wishing to use or extend their

Having access to the training materials for a program can be as
or more important than access to the basic documentation. As


software becomes more and more complicated, the ability to accessand use the training materials becomes essential. Videotapes
with closed (or open) captions, provision of equivalent training
materials which do not require the ability to see, and the use of
descriptive video (where the actions taking place on the screen
are described as a narrative on a separate audio track) are
examples of some strategies which can be used here. Providing
more accessible training does not mean that videotapes cannot be
used because there are people who are blind, however. It could
mean that the same information provided in the videotapes is also
available in a form that does not require sight.

In addition to the training materials themselves, it is also
important that training sessions be as accessible as possible.
Some strategies for doing this include holding the training
sessions in facilities which meet ADA accessibility standards,
and may include the provision of interpreting or other services
to meet the needs of specific attenders.

.c.::4) Product Testing with Access Software and Hardware

It is difficult to ensure that new application software will not
cause problems for any of the many different types of special
access and adaptive hardware and software. Often, the only way
to tell whether a product or new features in a product will cause
problems is to actually try it out with the different access
products. As a first pass, companies may have people with
disabilities on site who can test new programs for general
usability. However, there are literally hundreds of different
adaptive aids. As a result, it is difficult for each application
software manufacturer to have all of the adaptations on-site to
try with their new software or new features. Two alternate
strategies are therefore suggested.

The first strategy is to include individuals from the various
adaptive hardware manufacturers and software developers as a part
of the early beta testing of a product. This will take a
concerted effort on the part of application software developers,
since these adaptive product manufacturers themselves do not
represent a large enough market to normally qualify for early
beta release of application software programs.

A second strategy would be to contract with a third party testing
lab that is familiar with a) the different types of hardware and
software adaptations available and b) the problems usually
encountered by these access products with application software.
This would involve a financial investment on the part of the
application software developer. On the other hand, it may
provide for a better mechanism to get a relatively high
confidence evaluation of the compatibility of the application
software. It would also allow testing with a range of different
hardware and software adaptations without requiring the
application manufacturers to release their software to a large
number of different manufacturers. The early testing of software
(pre-beta) is important, since problems with accessibility are


likely to occur at a level that is difficult to address at thebeta stages of an application. A major difficulty with this
approach is that there are no known testing labs with the broad
cross-sectional base of information that would be needed to carry
out such testing at the present time.

The best approach at this time therefore appears to be involving
the developers of the adaptive hardware and software as early as
possible in the testing of a product or update.

.c.::5) Provision of Special Customer Support Lines or

Another key to having software which is more accessible is the
provision of specialized customer support. Often, an application
program will seem to be incompatible with various adaptive
hardware or software products, when in fact it will work with
them if certain parameters are properly set. In other cases, it
may be incompatible with one particular adaptation, but be easily
accessed using others. Such information is important to users
who have disabilities, and generally cannot be obtained by
calling the standard customer support lines. In fact, a number
of companies have built-in accessibility features in their
products which are unknown to their own customer support teams.

While it would be nice to have all of the customer support
personnel fully aware of all types of disabilities, adaptations,
and compatibility issues, this is unrealistic. There is simply
too much specialized information. Even with a specialized hot
line, application companies may find that they identify different
individuals with expertise on how to use or adapt their software
for users with different disabilities.

A two-tiered approach to support for users with disabilities is
therefore suggested. First is the inclusion of basic disability
access issues and information across all of the customer support
personnel. This would include both a TDD (telecommunication
device for the deaf) line and a voice line. It would also
include an awareness of the efforts by the company to make their
products more accessible, and the existence of the specialized
customer support line. All customers, including those with
disabilities, could then use the standard support lines to handle
standard product use questions. When specialized questions
arose, such as compatibility of the product with special
disability access utilities, the calls could be forwarded to a
disability/technical support team.

The second tier would be the creation of a customer support line
specifically for individuals who have disabilities. If your
company provides an electronic customer assistance mechanism, a
special forum or section for disability access should also be
provided. The purpose of these mechanisms would be to provide
specialized and in-depth information and support regarding
disability access and compatibility issues or fixes for different
access utilities.


For some small companies, it may be difficult to develop a depthof expertise in each of the disability areas. In that case,
rather than trying to hire someone with expertise in the
different disability areas as well as expertise in the technical
support aspects, the company might contract with an outside
agency who does have this expertise and give them the training on
the company's software and technical support information.

The existence of the special customer support, as well as the
phone numbers, should be prominently listed in the documentation.
Specific services and disability access features of products
should also be plainly documented in manuals.

.c.::6) Provision of Special Developer Support Lines or Contact
People for Third-Party Manufacturers of Access Software and

Another key area in ensuring the accessibility of application
software is support for companies developing disability access
software. Again, these companies are usually small enough that
they do not qualify for the types of support generally provided
to other, larger developers and operating system manufacturers.
As a result, it is often difficult or impossible for them to
qualify for access to technical support in the same manner as
other larger third-party manufacturers. In addition, the types
of problems they have sometimes differ. It is often therefore
helpful to have individuals within the technical support team who
specialize in these issues, and who can work with developers to
both a) identify strategies for those developers to effectively
access your application, and b) identify ways in which your
application or future editions of it can be made more user-

This latter point is essential in the development of new versions
of application programs. As mentioned above, discovering an
incompatibility with access software at the beta testing stage is
too late. Typically, the types of inconsistencies that occur
with access software occur at a rather fundamental architectural
or structural level in the application. Thus, it is usually too
late by the time the beta test occurs to do anything about
accessibility problems. On the other hand, software is usually
not available for testing until it is substantially completed.
Ensuring the future accessibility of software products is
therefore highly dependent upon interchange and communication
between the software development team at the application
manufacturer and the third-party access product developers.
Through this interaction, as well as through documents such as
this, application software developers can begin to identify the
kinds of things that do or might cause accessibility problems.
They can then get in contact with the third-party assistive
device manufacturers and explore ways to circumvent these


[blank page inserted intentionally, to control double-side pagelayout]


.c."Appendix A

Initial Listing of Specific Techniques

for Increasing the Accessibility of Application Software
Appendix A
Table of Contents

.Begin Table A.

Character-Based Programs--Writing to the Screen.........35
- Using Full-Width Text Wherever Possible............35
- Avoiding Use of ----- or *****.....................35
- Avoiding Alphabetic Characters to Draw Boxes,
- Providing a Monochrome Mode for Your Software......35
Graphics-Based Programs--Writing to Screen..............36
- Using the System Tools.............................36
- Using the Text-Drawing Tools to Erase Text As
- Minimizing Use of Painted Text.....................36
Cursors and Highlighting................................36
- Using System Cursors...............................36
- Dragging the System Cursor With You................36
- Allowing the Substitution of Larger or Heavier-
Line Cursors.......................................37
- Carrying a Character With You When Moving a
Highlight Down a List..............................37
Screen Format and Color.................................37
- Using Consistent and Expected Screen Layouts.......37
- Using Care When Transmitting Information With
- Providing a Monochrome Option......................38
- Making Sure that Warnings, Alerts, and Help
Balloons are Stable Enough that They Can Be Read
Before They Disappear..............................38
- Using the System Tools.............................38
- Avoiding Non-Text Menu Items (Unless Redundant)
- Providing Keyboard Access to All Menus.............39
- Providing Alternate Mechanisms to Access
- Direct Access to Palettes and Toolbars.............39
- Drawing Toolbar Icons Individually.................39
Buttons and Dialog Boxes................................39
- Giving Buttons Logical Names.......................39
- Ordering Buttons in the Dialog Box Definition in
a Logical Screen Order.............................39
- Allowing Direct Keyboard Access to All Aspects
of the Dialog......................................40
- Providing All Auditory Information in a Visual
Format As Well.....................................40
- Providing ShowSounds Support for All Sounds........40
- Ensuring that Visual Cues Are Noticeable...........40


- Providing Captions for Synthetic or Recorded Speech.............................................40
- Updating System and Keyboard Flags/Lights for
Locking Keys.......................................41
- Providing Full Access to All Aspects of the
Program from the Keyboard..........................41
- Not Interfering with Key Latching and Other
"StickyKey" Functions..............................41
- Making All Program Settings Software-Queriable
and Settable.......................................41
.End Table A.


Appendix A
Initial Listing of Specific Techniques
for Increasing the Accessibility of Application Software

This appendix contains an initial list of specific guidelines.
This list is only a collection of items submitted so far; it is
not meant to be comprehensive. Once this document has been
circulated for comment, a more complete list will be compiled and
published. Please consider this list open-ended: feel free to
comment on any item or add as many items as you wish.

The lists are organized by aspects of software design--menus,
cursors, writing to screen, etc.--rather than by disability.
This has been done so that the significance to design is made
more clear.

.a.:Character-Based Programs--Writing to the Screen

1) Using Full-Width Text Wherever Possible

Text-based screen readers default to reading left to right.
Text which is positioned in columns is often read as if it
were continuous text; that is, the text is read in the first
column is read, and then the screen reader will jump to the
text in the next column and continue reading. Screen
readers can be programmed to deal with text in columns.
Where possible, however, continuous text is easier to deal

2) Avoiding Use of ----- or *****

Where possible, use extended ASCII character graphics rather
than standard ASCII characters for drawing lines, making
boxes, etc. When screen readers hit this text, they may
read it, unnecessarily slowing down the process. A
particular nuisance is text which is buried in a string of
asterisks. In order to read the text, the individual must
sit while the screen reader reads off the punctuation or
other characters. Screen reading programs can be programmed
to skip nonalphabetic characters; however, this can cause
the individual to miss important information on the screen.

3) Avoiding Alphabetic Characters to Draw Boxes, etc.

A similar problem appears when alphabetic characters are
used to draw boxes. Using 1's (the digit one) or l's (lower
case L) to draw a vertical line is obvious to somebody
looking at the overall screen. When reading a single line


of text using a screen reader, however, these do not look like a vertical line but are read aloud as the characters
"L" or "One."

4) Providing a Monochrome Mode for Your Software

Software which presents information in a color graphics mode
often uses different strategies to highlight or select text.
Providing an optional monochrome mode in your software
greatly facilitates access software, particularly cursor

.a.:Graphics-Based Programs--Writing to Screen

1) Using the System Tools

Wherever possible, applications should use the standard
text-drawing tools included in the system. Most screen
access software programs for graphics-based computers figure
out what is on the screen by watching the use of these
tools. Even when the tools are used to draw characters in
other (nonscreen) locations of memory and then copy the
information to the screen, it is still possible for access
software to track its use. In this fashion, the access
software can keep track of which characters with which
attributes appear in each location on the screen without
having to attempt to do optical character recognition
directly on the bit-mapped fonts on the screen. (Direct OCR
of pixel image of the characters on the screen has been
proposed. However, when small point italic characters are
used, they are generally so distorted as to be
unrecognizable. In addition, underlining, shading,
outlining, and other attributes to the text can make it
difficult to recognize. As a result, tracking the use of
the text-drawing tools is the only currently available

2) Using the Text-Drawing Tools to Erase Text As Well

Occasionally, applications will draw the text characters in
a different portion of memory, and then copy the block of
text onto the screen. As mentioned above, as long as the
text-drawing routines are used, this does not pose a
problem. However, when the applications are done with this
text and they want to re-use the area, they will often
directly zero the space in memory where they were drawing
the characters rather than using the text-drawing tools to
erase this area. This makes it more difficult for the
screen reading software to keep track of which characters
are or are not still drawn in that portion of memory.


3) Minimizing Use of Painted Text
Occasionally, applications will use text which has been
predrawn and stored in the program as a bit image. Such
painted text cannot be read by many screen reading routines.
When this text is purely decorative, as on a start-up
screen, it does not pose a problem. If it contains
important information or information necessary to use or
understand the program, it should be created in real time
using the text-drawing tools in order to be accessible by
screen reading programs.

.a.:Cursors and Highlighting

The problems surrounding cursors generally fall into two
categories: being able to substitute the cursor with a larger,
fatter cursor so that it can be seen with poor vision, and being
able to electronically locate the cursor so that the screen
reading or enlargement programs can follow text entry.
Eventually, some standard mechanism for allowing electronic
cursor location may be devised. In the meantime, the following
strategies may be used.

1) Using System Cursors

Whether using text-based or graphics-based screens, using
the system cursors wherever possible facilitates cursor
location. Again, most screen reading programs can easily
locate the system cursor. However, if the application
software creates its own cursor (by highlighting text, by
creating a box, etc.), there is no way for the access
software to easily tell where the cursor is.

2) Dragging the System Cursor With You

If the application software does use some special nonsystem
cursor, one strategy is to drag the system cursor along with
the special cursor. In this fashion, the access software
can easily follow the custom cursor. Screen reading
software frequently provides a capability to automatically
locate the system cursor. If the system cursor follows any
specialized cursor, then the blind user will be able to
locate both. For individuals with low vision, the screen
enlargement software will generally follow the cursor
automatically, so that as they type, the enlarged image on
the screen tracks the typing.

3) Allowing the Substitution of Larger or Heavier-Line Cursors

Some individuals with low vision are able to use computers
without screen enlargement software, either by using the
standard font or a slightly larger font. The text cursor,


however, often consists of a single thin line which easily disappears from the user's view. As the user enlarges the
fonts, the cursor line usually gets taller, but it does not
necessarily get any thicker or easier to see. If an
application is using a system cursor, then there shouldn't
be a problem (since the system should already support an
alternate system cursor which would be heavier and easier
for individuals to see.) If the application software is
providing its own cursors, however, then provision of an
alternate cursor with a heavier line width should be
considered. Alternately, a special control which would make
the cursor stand out in some fashion, to make it easy to
locate, could be provided. Some strategies for making the
cursor easy to locate include:

- Having the cursor momentarily change into some large
dark shape which is easy to locate when a particular
key combination is pressed;

- Providing a larger thick cross-hair which covers some
or all of the screen momentarily while a particular
key combination is pressed.

4) Carrying a Character With You When Moving a Highlight Down
a List

A common strategy for selecting items from a list is to use
the arrow keys to move a highlighted bar up and down the
list. A highlighted bar is much harder for screen reading
software to detect than is a character. If a small
character is also moved up and down a list (along with the
highlight) or in some other way change the characters on the
line that is selected in the list, it greatly facilitates
access by screen reading programs. Two examples are shown

Example 1: Example 2:
Item 1 1 Item
> Item 2 2 Item
Item 3 [3] Item
Item 4 4 Item

.a.:Screen Format and Color

1) Using Consistent and Expected Screen Layouts

For individuals who have low vision, consistency of screen
layout is important. As discussed earlier, individuals with
low vision often use screen enlargement software to access
the screen. As a result, they are only able to view a small
portion of the screen, similar to looking down a paper tube.
Similarly, individuals who are blind must use screen reading
software to locate items on the screen, searching one letter
or word at a time. Thus, programs that have a consistent


location for menus, feedback messages, etc., are much easier to use. Where operating systems specify standard procedures
and locations for things, it is very helpful for application
programs to follow these standards.

2) Using Care When Transmitting Information With Color

For individuals who are color blind, the ability to select
the colors used for all aspects of the screen is helpful.
In general, most displays use light characters on a dark
background or dark characters on a light background. As a
result, they are generally visible no matter what their
color is, simply because of the difference in their
intensity. However, the ability to adjust colors to
increase contrast is helpful for some individuals.

When using color to encode information, using colors having
much different intensities makes the colors easier to
differentiate. A light yellow and a dark green, for
example, could be distinguished even if the screen were
displayed in gray-scale mode because of the difference in
their intensity.

3) Providing a Monochrome Option

One mechanism to circumvent problems with color is simply to
provide a monochrome or gray-scale option for the program.
Individuals having difficulty with colors can then use the
program in the monochrome or gray-scale mode.

4) Making Sure that Warnings, Alerts, and Help Balloons are
Stable Enough that They Can Be Read Before They Disappear

Alert messages that pop up and disappear before the
individual has a chance to find and read them may be missed
by some individuals, depending on their screen access tools.
To avoid this problem, alert messages should remain on
screen until dismissed by the user.

Some other applications have text which appears when the
mouse cursor touches some point on the screen. If the mouse
cursor moves off of that point, the text disappears. This
provides a particular problem for screen access software, if
it moves the mouse pointer along as it reads the text.

A typical scenario of this problem would occur follows. The
user moves the cursor to a point on the screen, causing the
text to pop up. The user then tries to read the text, but
as the screen reader begins to read the text, it moves the
mouse cursor to move along with the reading. As soon as the
cursor moves to the first word, it has left the original
trigger point on the screen, and the text that the user is
trying to read disappears. At the present time, the balloon


help on the Macintosh suffers from such a problem. A mechanism which would allow triggered text to be locked on,
so that the individual can move the cursor over the text to
read it, would be helpful.

Individuals with learning disabilities may experience
similar problems. For example, there is now a special
utility program on the market which allows people with
learning disabilities to get reading assistance: the user
points the mouse cursor at a word, and the program reads the
word aloud. Such a program would be unable to read words in
pop-up messages such as those described above. As soon as
the user moved the cursor to tell the special utility which
word to read, the message would disappear.


1) Using the System Tools

As discussed earlier, most access software works by
attaching itself to the operating system. When application
software uses standard system menu tools, access software is
able to read the list of available commands and can provide
the individual with the ability to directly maneuver through
and activate the commands.

2) Avoiding Non-Text Menu Items (Unless Redundant)

Menu items that are not text-based and are not accompanied
by text are difficult for screen reading programs to access.

3) Providing Keyboard Access to All Menus

Application programs which provide the ability to access all
of the menus by using the keyboard greatly facilitate access
by individuals who cannot use the standard mouse. This
access may be provided either by use of the arrow keys to
move around through the menu structure, or through use of
keyboard equivalents for the menu items.

4) Providing Alternate Mechanisms to Access Commands

Application programs which provide multiple mechanisms for
accessing commands better accommodate the differing needs of
users. Access via menus and layered dialogs provide easier
access for individuals with lower cognitive abilities.
Direct access with key combinations provides better access
for individuals with physical impairments and for
individuals who are blind.


5) Direct Access to Palettes and Toolbars
As with menus, application programs which provide direct
access to palettes and toolbars greatly facilitate access by
individuals with different disabilities. If the toolbar is
only a shortcut method to accessing items in the menu, and
the menu is accessible, then access to the toolbar would not
be necessary. When the toolbar commands are not available
in the menu, however, direct access might be provided, or
the items might be provided redundantly as an optional menu.

6) Drawing Toolbar Icons Individually

Screen access software for individuals who are blind works
by monitoring the operating system's screen drawing
routines. When individual icons are drawn separately, they
can be individually identified, named, and accessed. If a
toolbar or palette is drawn as a single bit image, the
individual tools within that palette are not individually
identifiable or accessible using standard techniques.

.a.:Buttons and Dialog Boxes

1) Giving Buttons Logical Names

When naming the buttons within a dialog box (whose names do
not appear on the buttons in the dialog definition), be sure
that clear, logical, descriptive names which match the words
printed on the screen near them. Screen reading software
accesses these names in helping the person who is blind to
decipher the information within the dialog box.

2) Ordering Buttons in the Dialog Box Definition in a Logical
Screen Order

In some operating systems, buttons within a dialog box are
not normally accessible directly from the keyboard. Access
utilities exist which allow individuals to tab through the
buttons until they reach the desired button, after which
they can select it from the keyboard. The order in which
the tab moves through the buttons is dependent upon the
order in which the buttons are defined in the dialog. If
the button definitions are not in logical order, the tabbing
key will jump the highlight in what appears to be a random
pattern around the dialog, highlighting the buttons in their
definition order. Although this does not prevent access, it
is disorienting.


3) Allowing Direct Keyboard Access to All Aspects of the Dialog

Again, the best solution is to provide direct keyboard
access to all aspects of the dialog, including buttons,
scroll windows, text entry fields, and pop-up menus.


1) Providing All Auditory Information in a Visual Format As

A general solution which solves the access problems for both
individuals who are hard of hearing and individuals who are
deaf is the provision of all auditory information in a
visual form as well. Auditory warning beeps can be
accompanied by a visual indicator. Beeps and other sounds
would described in text, both to differentiate the sounds
and to allow access by individuals who are deaf-blind (and
would be using a braille screen reading program to access
all of the information from the computer). Speech output
(in cases where it is important for understanding and using
the program) can be accompanied by text on the screen
(either as a normal part of the program, or in a caption
box). This presentation of information visually can be
programmed to happen at all times, or can be invoked if a
special operating system flag is set indicating that the
user would like all auditory information presented visually.
If the system software provides a "ShowSounds" flag, the
setting of this flag could then trigger the visual display

2) Providing ShowSounds Support for All Sounds

For beeps or other sounds which are not normally accompanied
by a visual indication, application software should check
for a system "ShowSounds" flag. At the present time, the
"ShowSounds" flag is not a standard feature. In the future,
however, it should be appearing as a standard system flag
which can be accessed by software. Users who are in noisy
environments or who cannot hear well would then be able to
set the "ShowSounds" flag. Application programs could then
check that flag and provide a visual indication to accompany
any auditory sounds.

3) Ensuring that Visual Cues Are Noticeable

When providing a visual cue to what would otherwise be an
auditory alert, it is important to ensure that the cue is
sufficient to attract the user's attention when viewed out
of the corner of the eye. An individual who is looking at
the keyboard and typing, for example, is not going to notice
a small icon that appears and disappears momentarily in the


corner of the display. A flickering menu bar or area at the bottom of the screen will stand a better chance of
attracting attention.

4) Providing Captions for Synthetic or Recorded Speech

As programs incorporate the use of synthetic or recorded
speech, closed captioning should be considered. Again, in
those cases where the information being presented via speech
is already presented in text on the screen, there is no need
to present the information visually in any other fashion.
In those cases where information is being presented via
speech which is not otherwise displayed on the screen,
application programs might check for the "ShowSounds" flag.
If the flag is set, a small box containing the text being
spoken could be displayed on screen. Music or other sounds
being provided for adornment would not have to be presented
in caption form, if they are not important to the operation
of the program. Where the tune or sound is important to the
operation of the program, then some description to that
effect could appear in the caption box.

NOTE: In addition to providing a "ShowSounds" flag as a part
of the operating system, manufacturers of modern operating
systems are also being encouraged to build captioning tools
directly into the operating system to facilitate the
implementation of closed captioning by application programs.


1) Updating System and Keyboard Flags/Lights for Locking Keys

Some application programs provide their own on-screen
indication as to whether the CapsLock, ScrollLock, and
NumLock keys have been depressed. In some cases, this
feedback is independent of (and therefore sometimes
contradictory to) the flags in the system or the status of
the lights on the keyboard. This can cause inconsistent
feedback to people who are using access programs which check
the status of these indicators. Applications programs
should either use the status flags in the system and
keyboard or update them to agree with the program.

2) Providing Full Access to All Aspects of the Program from
the Keyboard

Making all aspects of the program, including menus, dialogs,
palettes, etc., accessible from the keyboard significantly
increases accessibility for some users. Although a
MouseKeys feature (which allows the user to use the keypad
to drive the mouse around the screen) could be used to
provide access to toolbars, for example, this is a very slow
and ineffective mechanism. Even if the individual is using


MouseKeys for drawing, rapid access to the tools via the keyboard can greatly facilitate the use of the application
software by individuals with disabilities (and other users
as well).

3) Not Interfering with Key Latching and Other "StickyKey"

One problem faced by individuals with disabilities is the
inability to hold down two keys simultaneously. "StickyKey"
programs which provide electronic latching for the Shift,
Control, Alternate, Option, and Command keys on the
different computer platforms already exist, and are being
made available by operating system manufacturers. As a
result, it is not necessary to build this type of feature
into your application program. In fact, this is an example
of an accessibility feature which is best handled at the
system level. Moreover, implementing it in an application
can cause a conflict with and therefore interfere with the
feature in the system software.


See discussion in Part IV.


1) Making All Program Settings Software-Queriable and Settable

In order to facilitate access to programs by individuals
using their access software, it is useful to have all user-
settable parameters both readable and settable via external
software. This might be accomplished in a number of
fashions, including providing an optional menu which could
be enabled (since the access software would already have
access to the menus.) This technique would allow the
software both to easily get a list of the externally
available commands and to execute them. Commands can be
provided for reading and for setting parameters, either
directly or via dialogs.


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.c.Appendix B

Resources Available to Help
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page layout]

Appendix B: Resources Available to Help

For comprehensive listings of third-party computer access
hardware and software....

ABLEDATA is a comprehensive database of over 17,000
rehabilitation and assistive device products. The full
range of technology is included, from wheelchairs to
sensory aids to communication devices. Low-tech devices,
such as typing sticks and communication boards, are also
included. ABLEDATA is maintained by the Adaptive
Equipment Department of the Newington Children's Hospital,
181 East Cedar Street, Newington CT 06111, phone 800/344-
5405. ABLEDATA is also currently available on-line via
BRS, Bibliographic Retrieval Service, which is subscribed
to by most libraries.

On Disk:
Hyper-ABLEDATA is a desktop version of the ABLEDATA database.
Hyper-ABLEDATA allows the full 17,000-item database to be
searched by company name, product name, type of product,
or Boolean logic searching. It is available on CD-ROM,
and contains pictures of about 1,000 products, and sound
samples for 50 different synthesized voices. The Hyper-
ABLEDATA CD is available from the Trace R&D Center, S-151
Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison WI 53705;
price (1991) is $50.00 for two issues of the CD.

On Paper:
Trace ResourceBook: Assistive Technologies for Communication,
Control, and Computer Access (1991-92 Edition) is a
comprehensive guide to software, hardware, and
augmentative communication equipment. Updated information
is included on over 1,000 products and 400 manufacturers.
Products covered range from assistive devices for
communication, such as headsticks, to computer software
for speech therapy. Each product entry features basic
product and manufacturer information, a picture of the
product (if relevant), and a one- or two-paragraph
description. The ResourceBook is available from the Trace
R&D Center, S-151 Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue,
Madison WI 53705; price (1991) is $50.00.

For assistance in translating and formatting documentation into
accessible ASCII text files, contact:

George Kersher, Director
R&D Division


Recording for the Blind PO Box 7068
Missoula, MT 59802

For information on efforts of other application software
working on accessibility issues, contact:

Information Technology Foundation
(formerly ADAPSO)
1616 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 1300
Arlington, VA 22209-9998
703/522-5055 (voice)
703/525-2279 (fax)

For general information on the Federal regulations regarding
computer accessibility, contact:

Frank McDonough, Assistant Commissioner
Office of Federal Information Resources Management
General Services Administration
18th and F Streets NW, Room 2239, KA
Washington, DC 20405

For general information on Federal computer accessibility,

Clearinghouse on Computer Accommodation
General Services Administration
18th and F Streets NW, Room 2022, KGDO
Washington, DC 20405

For information on the latest application software design

For information on the latest application software design
guidelines, as well as the latest versions of design guidelines
for computer hardware and operating systems, contact:

Gregg Vanderheiden, Ph.D., Director
Trace R&D Center
S-151 Waisman Center
1500 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705-2280
608/262-6966 (voice)
608/263-5408 (TDD)
608/262-8848 (fax)


For information on disability statistics, contact:
Mitchell Laplante, Ph.D.
Disability Statistics Program Inventory
Institute of Health and Aging
University of California - San Francisco
3rd and Paranassus Avenue, Room N631
San Francisco, CA 94143


.c.Appendix C

A Collection of General Notes on Accessibility

(with specific comments in relation to

Computers and Application Software)
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page layout]

A Collection of General Notes on Accessibility
(with specific comments in relation to
Computers and Application Software)

What Is Meant by Accessibility?

The term "accessibility" is used to describe the ability of an
individual to "access" or use a product or environment. Within
the context of the disability area, accessibility means the
ability of an individual with a disability to use environments,
products, etc., in the same or similar fashion as individuals who
do not have disabilities. The key point is that the person with
a disability be able to operate the products and achieve the all
of the same results as individuals without disabilities.

Similarly, with software and operating systems, accessibility
refers to the ability of an individual to access and use the
product in an effective and efficient manner. It does not have
to be identical to the manner in which somebody without a
disability would use it, but it should provide equivalent and
efficient access.

Four Types of Accessibility

In looking at product accessibility, it is important to note that
there are different approaches to making products accessible. In
any one product, it may be necessary to use one or a combination
of these approaches to achieve the desired level of accessibility
across all of the types of disability. Each of these approaches
has advantages and disadvantages. All other things being equal,
however, wherever possible, the first type, direct accessibility,
is the most advantageous. These four approaches, in order of
desirability, are:

1) Direct Accessibility

2) Accessibility via Standard Options or Accessories
(available separately from the manufacturer)

3) Compatibility with Third-Party Assistive Devices

4) Facilitation of Custom Modification


1) Direct Accessibility


For most types or degrees of impairment, there are simple and low
cost (or no cost) adaptations to product designs which can
significantly increase their accessibility and usefulness to
individuals with functional impairments. By incorporating these
design modifications into the initial product design, the
standard product can be more accessible directly "out of the


1) Pre-Installed
Always there; no need to find, buy, or install.

2) Public Shared Products
Will be present on products used in public or shared

3) Compatible
If accessibility features are built directly into a
standard product the access features will be
automatically tested by third-party software or
accessory manufacturers for compatibility with their
products when they do their testing.

4) No Additional Cost to User
Product costs same for users with disabilities as
those without.

5) Less Stigma
Particularly for older users, built in accessibility
is much more acceptable than special aids or
modifications and may be unnoticed.

6) Easier to Use by All
Products designed for people with reduced abilities
are generally easier for everyone else to understand
and use.


1) Feasibility for Some Disabilities
It is not practical or feasible to make some products
directly accessible for people with some
disabilities. (e.g. not practical to build a braille
display into every computer to allow access by deaf-
blind users)


For application software manufacturers, a good part of maximizing
the accessibility of their software will be in being sure it is
compatible with the built-in or third-party accessibility
features and aids. This compatibility includes not interfering
with the invocation and operation of the access features as well
as cooperating with them by making key information available only
to the application program available to the access features.


A "MouseKeys" feature is now a standard part of all Apple
Macintosh computers shipped. This feature, which can be invoked
directly from the keyboard, allows the user to move the cursor
across the screen via the numeric keypad rather than the mouse.
Individuals who do not have the motor control necessary to
operate a mouse can use this feature (which is built into all
Macintoshes) to access the Macintosh. Because the feature is
implemented as an extension to the computer's operating system,
it costs nothing to include as part of the product. Since
"MouseKeys" became available, many able-bodied users have found
it useful as well because of its capability for precise one-pixel
positioning, which was not previously available. (The MouseKeys
feature is now available for IBM computers running DOS, through a
package called "AccessDOS," available from IBM, and for
Windows 3.0 through a package called "Windows Access Utility,"
available from Microsoft. (However, in these two cases, the
access features are available as a separate package from the
standard operating system, and would therefore be examples of
Type 2 accessibility, accessibility via standard option or

Other, noncomputer examples of direct accessibility include
MacDonald's, who embossed braille characters on the tops of its
soft drink cup covers along with the letters labelling the
pushdown buttons on the lid that indicate whether the drink is
diet, etc., and Proctor-Silex, who embossed braille characters on
the bottom of some of its bowls indicating the size (quarts) of
the bowl.


2) Accessibility via Standard Options or
(available separately from the


Sometimes it is not possible to design the standard product to
make it directly accessible for some disability populations.
Alternatives to standard design may be identified, but offering
all of them may not be practical due to some alternatives being
mutually exclusive, too expensive, or awkward as a direct part of
a standard product.

When this occurs, it may be more effective to make these
adaptations or alternatives available as standard options or
accessories from the manufacturer. These may be extra-cost,
special order items, or preferably, items available free on
request. These special features or accessories should be listed
and described in the standard documentation that comes with the
product. They could also be listed in advertising for the


1) No Additional Cost to User
If the manufacturer provides it free, the product
would cost the same for users with disabilities as
those without.

2) Possible Compatibility Testing
If the features are packaged directly with the
standard product, they may be tested by third-party
software or accessory manufacturers for compatibility
with their products when they do their testing.

3) Easier Implementation of Some Features
Some features, such as braille overlays or software
extensions that require substantial memory, may be
easier to implement as options or accessories to the
standard product.


1) Must Be Installed
No need to find or buy the feature, but it would have
to be installed.

2) Public Shared Products
May or may not be installed and therefore available
on public use products.


3) Possibly No Compatibility Testing If the features are not packaged directly with the
standard product, they may very will not be known to
or tested by third-party software or accessory
manufacturers for compatibility with their products
when they do their testing.


One reason that this approach is sometimes taken is because of
incompatibilities between various access features. It may, in
fact, not be possible to have all of them co-reside
simultaneously. In this case, an effective approach,
particularly in the computer industry, would be to package the
various options as separate but included components in the
product when it is shipped.


Apple currently ships a screen enlargement utility called
CloseView as a standard part of its operating system package.
Because CloseView consumes a fair amount of memory when loaded,
it is not automatically installed in the system when the computer
is purchased (as the other disability access features are). It
is, however, included as a part of the standard system disks
(along with a number of other optional system extensions which
are not disability-related). Because it is packaged with the
standard operating system when it is sold, it has a much better
chance of being compatible. AccessDOS and the Windows Access
Utilities cited above are also examples of Type 2 accessibility
features. They are not, however, currently packaged with the
standard product.


3) Compatibility with Third-Party Assistive


This involves designing the standard product in a manner that
facilitates the connection of third-party adaptive interfaces or
assistive devices. No matter how sincere a manufacturer is about
increasing the accessibility of their products, there will always
be individuals with severe or multiple disabilities who will
require special accessories in order to operate the product.
Individuals who are deaf-blind, for example, who require dynamic
braille displays (costing thousands of dollars) cannot be
directly accommodated when building a computer which itself costs
under a thousand dollars. While many accessibility options can
be implemented in software, such that they cause no significant
increase in the product manufacturing cost, the inclusion of a
multi-thousand dollar braille display in every computer in order
to accommodate a small number of users is not efficient or
reasonable. Similarly, an individual who can only use an eyegaze
operated keyboard, again costing a significant amount of money,
could not reasonably be accommodated by adding such an interface
to standard product design. In these and other cases where
substantial hardware or other manufacturing costs would be
involved, the most appropriate mechanism for providing
accessibility is through third-party special assistive devices.
In these cases, the best strategy for standard product
manufacturers is to maximize the compatibility of their product
with these assistive devices.


1) Better Tailored Solutions
Use of third-party access aids or special access
software products which can be selected by a user to
meet their particular needs and preferences can
provide better access than a general built-in
utility, especially for people with more severe

2) Familiar Interface
Users who already have a communication or interface
aid that they require for other purposes (and are
familiar with) can use it to operate products which
are compatible with it.

3) Only Practical Approach for Some
For some access strategies which involve expensive
hardware, such as a dynamic Braille display or eye
gaze keyboard, the use of third-party assistive
devices (rather than building interfaces into each
product) is the only practical approach.


1) Must be Installed
User must find, buy and install/attach the access

2) Additional Cost to User
This approach requires that the user purchase the
access interface or device separately. However, if
they have a severe disability, they may already have
a general purpose interface device.

3) Public Shared Products
It is rarely possible to open up public access
products (computers, information terminals, etc.) to
install software or hardware needed by a user to
access the product. (An exception to this would be
products which have a standard external port for
connecting access aids.)

4) Usually No Compatibility Testing
Features that are not part of a standard product are
usually not known to, much less tested for
compatibility by, most third-party software or
accessory manufacturers.


Built-In and Third-Party access approaches are not exclusive of
each other. It may well be appropriate for an individual to use
built-in access features for occasional use or basic access to
public and shared products (computers or information systems for
example) that the individual runs across in daily life yet use a
more optimum access system from a third-party manufacturer when
they must work at a device for extended periods of time.

Assistive devices/interfaces from third-party manufacturers
generally take one of two forms. They are usually either:

a) programs, or accessories that are made specifically for
interfacing or using the standard product or products like
it (e.g., an eye gaze keyboard or screen reading program),

b) stand-alone aids (such as communication aids or writing
systems) which can also function as interfaces to other

The use of third-party access products can be facilitated in a
number of ways including (but not limited to) :

- providing a standard external connection point where
the product can be controlled from and where information


sent to the display can also be found. by third-party products

- providing hooks or connection points in the operating
system where third-party access software can tap into the
information and control flow.

- not using display or control formats that are
inaccessible to third-party access products without
providing the information/control in an accessible format
as well

- developing and documenting access strategies for new
control or display formats which are currently
inaccessible to third-party products.


Many people with physical disabilities cannot use standard
computer keyboards. Some of these people would require more
extensive modifications than would be possible using the first
two accessibility approaches discussed. Currently, there are
assistive device manufacturers who make alternative input devices
to fit people with a variety of severe physical disabilities.
However, the manufacturers of these assistive devices have always
had problems ensuring that the devices would work with standard,
commercially available computers. As part of the effort by the
computer industry to cooperate with manufacturers of assistive
devices, both IBM and Microsoft Corporation now distribute an
extension to their operating systems (DOS and Windows) called
"SerialKeys." This extension allows people to connect
alternative input devices to the serial port of the standard
personal computer in a way which makes input to the serial port
look like it is coming directly from the standard keyboard and
mouse. In this fashion, the user with a disability can
completely access and control the computer and all of its
software from an alternate input system without touching the
standard keyboard or mouse.


4) Facilitation of Custom Modification


There are some cases where special circumstances require the
custom modifications of the product, either by the product
manufacturer or a third-party. Standard product manufacturers
can facilitate this process.


1) Allows Custom Fitting of Solution
Since this approach involves custom modification of
products for a specific individual the solution can
be designed to better meet their needs then either
third-party or built-in access features.


1) Must Be Installed
User must find, buy and install/attach the access

2) Very High Cost
This approach is the most expensive. Unless it only
involves relatively minor mechanical, electronic or
programming modifications, the cost can be extremely

3) Public Shared Products
This approach does not help at all for access to
public or shared products.

4) No Compatibility Testing
Testing for compatibility by third-party software or
accessory manufacturers is not possible.


Leaving room for special attachments or labels, documenting hooks
or places to patch into hardware or software, publishing
information on safe or effective ways to modify products, or
honoring warrantees for products which have been modified for
accessibility but where the modification did not result in the


The Best Approach

Of the four approaches to Accessible Design, the first type,
direct accessibility "from the box," is the best where it is
possible. It allows the greatest access to products by persons
with disabilities at the lowest cost. It also allows them to
access products in public places where they could not otherwise
modify the products to meet their particular needs. It also
removes the stigma of "special" aids or modifications. This is
especially important for older users who do not want to be
labeled "disabled" even though their abilities are weakening.

It should also be noted that most of us become temporarily
"disabled" in a number of ways throughout our lives. Sometimes
it is by accident, such as a broken arm or eye injury. Sometimes
it is by circumstance, such as operating things in the dark where
we can't see well, in loud environments (vacuuming or teenagers)
where we can't hear well, with things in our arms where we can't
reach well, when we're tired or on cold medication and can't
think well, etc. Only those products which were designed to be
more easily used directly "from the box" (#1 above) will be of
use to us then. As mentioned above, more accessible designs are
also usually easier to use by everyone all the time. But only if
the ease of use is directly built in.

There Are No "Accessible" Products

In all of the discussions above, you will note that nowhere was a
product described as being "accessible." Products are more
accessible or less accessible. We can also talk about the
accessibility of a product. However, it is impossible or
inaccurate to ever make the flat statement or judgement that a
product is "accessible." There will always be individuals with
severe and multiple physical, sensory, and cognitive impairments
who will not be able to use the product.

The corollary of this, of course, is that there is no set of
measures that someone can take that will make their product
"accessible." This is a difficult concept and unwelcome news for
those manufacturers who sincerely want to make their products
"accessible." Manufacturers can make their products more
accessible or less accessible, but they cannot make them
"accessible" on an absolute scale.

In order to provide accessibility targets for manufacturers,
however, a number of "minimum accessibility standards" have been
developed. These generally take the form of building codes or
other regulations. These are the minimum levels of accessibility


that must be achieved in order to be acceptable according to somelaw or agency. Manufacturers, however, should view these as
minimum accessibility standards, and strive to surpass them where
they can. Individuals in the federal government who are
interested in purchasing accessible products may establish
minimum accessibility standards. However, their end goal is
products that are as accessible as possible. Manufacturers
should therefore not view minimum accessibility standards as
Descriptions of accessibility. Products that meet the standards
would not be accessible. They could be said to "meet XYZ
accessibility standards," or they may "meet or exceed all XYZ
accessibility standards."

Thus, there are no accessible products, and the use of the term
accessible as a long descriptor is misleading and confusing to
those who try to practice accessible design. Unfortunately, it
is commonly used this way today. (Some suggested substitute
words or usage might be: more accessible, less accessible,
minimal accessibility standard, minimally acceptable
accessibility, meets or meets and exceeds XYZ accessibility
standards, ADA accessible, GSA Guideline Accessible, accessible
to an individual, etc.)

Partial versus Complete Access
for an Individual or Type of Disability

In designing products to be accessible, it is important to be
sure that the whole product is accessible. Often, initial
attempts at accessible design are done piecemeal. Accessible
features are added where they are obvious rather than as a result
of looking at the product's overall accessibility. The result
can be a design which has accessible parts, but which is not as a
whole accessible or usable. Access to half a product when the
rest is inaccessible is of little practical use. In some cases,
inspired by a desire to address the needs of people with
different disabilities, it is even possible to design some parts
of a device (such as the controls) to be more accessible to one
population and design another part of the product with another
disability in mind. Unless the whole product is accessible to at
least one of these populations no-one is served. This is referred
to as Solomon's Trap*.

In most cases, it is possible with careful design to create
products which are simultaneously accessible to people with
different impairments. However, where this is not possible, care

* Vanderheiden, G., and Vanderheiden, K. (1991). Accessible
Design of Computer Products: Guidelines for the Design of
Consumer Products to Increase Their Accessibility to People
with Disabilities or Who Are Aging, page 17. Madison, WI:
Trace R&D Center, S-151 Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue,
ZIP 53705.


should be taken to be sure that the entire product is accessibleto those disability populations that you are able to address.

Efficient Access

An important component of the Description of accessibility is
that the individual be able to use the product in a "similar yet
efficient" fashion. Because the individual with a disability may
have different abilities from someone without a disability, they
will undoubtedly have to do things somewhat differently. In
fact, someone who is deaf and someone who is blind have differing
abilities, and would have to access software in different ways
from each other. Thus, the term similar does not imply that the
person must access in exactly the same manner. They should,
however, be able to access the product in as similar and
efficient a manner as possible. The more similar and efficient
the access, the more accessible an environment or product is.

Sometimes efficiency and similarity must be played off against
each other. In this case, efficiency is usually more important
if the product requires frequent and continual use. Similarity
is more important with products that are infrequently used or
only used for very short periods of time and where there is not
time pressure.

Accessibility Is a Continuous Function

Accessibility is not a yes/no proposition. Even buildings or
products which meet accessibility codes vary in their
accessibility. The goal of accessible design would not be to
meet minimum accessibility measures, but to create a product
which is as accessible as possible and practical.


.c.Appendix D

Section 508 Procurement Guidelines

[In the printed version of this document, Appendix C
consists of Appendices I and J from "Managing End User
Computing for Users with Disabilities," prepared by the
Clearinghouse on Computer Accommodation (COCA) of the
Information Resources Management Service (IRMS), General
Services Administration, and is pulled and printed from pre-
existing hard copy. For information on obtaining this
document in electronic form, contact Susan Brummel,
Director, COCA, Room 2022, KGDO, 18th and F Streets NW,
Washington, DC 20405.]

 December 9, 2017  Add comments

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